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The Yamaha YZF-R15 is one of the motorcycle that revolutionised the Indian motorcycling scene. Back in 2008, the low-capacity high-performance motorcycle market was booming and already had a few motorcycles selling very well.
Then came Yamaha with the YZF-R15, boasting of liquid-cooling, fuel-injection, a 6-speed gearbox, a deltabox frame, and disc brakes on both wheels - features that were earlier unheard of in the 150cc segment.
Needless to say, things then changed drastically in the Indian motorcycling scene. More manufacturers soon came up with such features and competition in the segment as we see today is tough indeed.
In 2011, Yamaha launched the R15 V2.0 with a few feature updates and a major redesign. Earlier this year, the Yamaha YZF-R15 V3.0 was launched with a major redesign and several features that once again brought drastic change to the 150cc performance motorcycle segment.
We ride the motorcycle to find out what it has to offer to buyers in the rapidly growing performance motorcycle market.
Design And Styling:
Sharp design and looks have been the hallmark of the Yamaha R15 since the very beginning and Yamaha has only made it sharper over the span of time. The Yamaha R15 V3.0 sports an aggressive overall design.
It has a slimmer profile than the previous generation motorcycle. The Yamaha R15 V3.0 takes inspiration from its elder siblings, the Yamaha R6 and the flagship Yamaha R1. Up front are sleek LED headlamps that are separated by a faux ram air-intake.
The headlamp fairing is fairly simple in design but makes the motorcycle look brilliant indeed. The windshield and rear view mirrors are mounted on the same panel. While most international markets get an upside down fork for the front suspension, the Indian market has to make do with conventional forks that do the job pretty well. More on the suspension later.
The side profile is proportionate and edgy. The fairing does not cover the engine entirely, but the character line on the fairing is in alignment with the angle of the rear cowl. The front disc brake has increased in size to 282mm while the rear disc remains the same as the V2.0 at 220mm. A chiselled fuel tank with knee recesses and sculpted seats complete the design on the side profile.
At the rear is an LED tail lamp and a cowl which has an empty space that one would want to believe does some aerodynamic trickery, but in fact just makes the motorcycle look brilliant. The swingarm, rear suspension, sprocket and tyre hugger all come together to form a neat design.
It is only the rear number plate and indicator mount that sticks out like a sore thumb with its length and also the side-facing reflectors. The design of the Yamaha R15 V3.0 is aggressive and certainly draws attention but is definitely not over the top.
The Yamaha R15 V3.0 is available in two colours - Thunder Grey and Racing Blue. The motorcycle in Thunder Grey looks elegant and classy with detailing in red while Racing Blue gives a true image of Yamaha's racing lineage. Irrespective of the colour chosen, the Yamaha R15 V3.0 definitely attracts a lot of attention and one gets used to second glances while riding it.
Engine And Performance:
In its third generation, the Yamaha YZF-R15 is powered by a liquid-cooled, 155cc, single-cylinder engine. The engine has a nikasil-coated cylinder which allows it to be held at high-revs for a longer period of time and this is much-needed because this engine loves to be revved.
It produces a best-in-class power output of 19bhp at 10,000rpm and a maximum torque output of 15Nm at 8,500rpm. This is achieved by a single overhead camshaft and a compression ratio of 11.6:1. Smooth, high-revving engines have always been Yamaha's forte and this 155cc unit is a perfect example of it.
Generally, a motor with the maximum output at high revs would lack torque at the bottom end, but that isn't the case with the R15 V3.0. It features a first-in-segment Variable Valve Actuation (VVA) system that immensely improves at lower revs.
VVA has the ability to change the duration in which the intake or exhaust valve is lifted during the combustion process, depending on the rpm the engine is running at. This is what makes the power delivery linear and smooth. The valve lift changes after 7,400rpm hence allowing for more power at higher revs too.
As the revs build up, the grin on the rider's face widens. It has strong mid-range performance and excellent top-end performance. 0-60km/h comes up in just about 3.4 seconds and the motorcycle will go on to touch a top speed of around 131km/h.
A smooth-shifting 6-speed gearbox drives the rear wheel via an assist and slipper clutch. The assist feature makes the clutch lever action lighter and hence easier to operate while the slipper clutch eliminates rear wheel lock due to engine braking.
The motorcycle returned an average fuel efficiency of 42km/l over varying riding conditions, including in-city usage, highway riding and full-throttle blasts on twisty roads.
Ride And Handling:
The Yamaha R15 traded outright power and displacement for dynamics and it has only become better over the years. The R15 V3.0 is by far the most dynamic of all the generations and credit is due to the seating position.
The rider always had a committed position on the saddle of the Yamaha R15 and that has only been improved on the V3.0 too. When I say improved, it is from the perspective of an enthusiast who takes corners at a pretty generous speed.
From a commuters point-of-view though, things may have taken a rather painful turn. At 815mm, the saddle height sees a 15mm increase over the V2.0. While this increase does make the motorcycle handle rather brilliantly in the twisties, it also puts significant stress on the lower back and the wrists of the rider during long commutes in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Once the traffic moves freely, things ease out for the rider. In extremely slow-moving traffic though, the pain can be felt. However,there is a lot more to be said about the handling of Yamaha R15 V3.0 on the positive side of things.
The ride is perfectly comfortable when the speed builds up a little. The true colours of the Yamaha R15 V3.0 would come out only amidst the twisties and that is exactly where we took it for our test.
We headed to Lavasa, a scenic hillstation in the western ghats near Pune in search of some curves and we did find more than we asked for. It rained like there was no tomorrow and there I was going full throttle on the Yamaha R15 V3.0.
It is in such conditions that the best or worst of any motorcycle comes out, thanks to the low visibility, less grip and more stress on the engine. We are pleased to say, we could get the best out of the Yamaha R15 V3.0.
The motorcycle handles like a dream. It is absolutely confidence inspiring when it comes to taking on corners. The rider's seat height being increased means, the clip-handlebars are nice and low, giving the rider a better feel of the road.
The forward-weighted position also helps the motorcycle brake better even when the roads are wet. As a side effect of this, the rear end is extremely light under braking and would usually tend to fishtail or hop, but the slipper clutch takes care of this as well. Yamaha offers MRF tyres as standard on the motorcycle, but Metzeler tyres are optional and that makes the deal even better.
The Yamaha R15 V3.0 comes with a digital instrument cluster that is pretty informative. It displays the speed in large bold digits while the engine RPM is displayed in a manner that is pretty close to the actual power band graph.
Yamaha is also offering several accessories with the YZF R15 V3.0 like frame sliders, a Daytona exhaust kit, skid plate, mobile charger, etc.
Stephen Neil Thinks!
The first-gen Yamaha R15 was one of the first bikes I rode in my life and it left a lasting impression on me. It was my first taste of smooth, dynamic and performance-oriented biking. Needless to say, the third generation motorcycle, with its new features and sharp design did make me want to purchase the motorcycle myself.